Ex­ports hit record high in March as trade deficit narrows

The in­crease came af­ter stronger en­ergy ex­ports and gains in con­sumer goods

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - CRAIG WONG

The en­ergy and con­sumer goods sec­tors helped Cana­dian ex­ports rise to a record high in March as the coun­try’s trade deficit nar­rowed to $135 mil­lion, re­ports Sta­tis­tics Canada.

Econ­o­mists had ex­pected a deficit of $800 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Thom­son Reuters.

“This is a solid re­port,” Ben­jamin Reitzes at BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets sais Thurs­day af­ter the data was re­leased.

The short­fall fol­lowed a re­vised deficit of $1.1 bil­lion for Fe­bru­ary com­pared with an ini­tial read­ing of a deficit of $972 mil­lion for the month. Gains in eight of 11 sec­tors in March helped ex­ports rise 3.8 per cent to $47 bil­lion, while vol­umes gained 2.5 per cent and prices in­creased 1.3 per cent. Driv­ing the gain was a 7.0 per cent in­crease in en­ergy ex­ports to $8.7 bil­lion. A boost in nat­u­ral gas ex­ports due to cold tem­per­a­tures in the north­east­ern United States and higher coal ex­ports to Asia were fac­tors.

“Com­bined with a con­tin­ued creep higher in crude prices, look for en­ergy to con­tinue be­ing a cat­a­lyst in sup­port­ing Cana­dian ex­ports,” CIBC econ­o­mist Nick Exarhos wrote in a re­port.

Con­sumer goods ex­ports also gained ground, climbing 6.8 per cent to $6.1 bil­lion. Ex­ports of other food prod­ucts led the in­crease with a gain of 11.9 per cent to a record $1.4 bil­lion, boosted by ex­ports of yel­low peas and red lentils to In­dia.

On a re­gional ba­sis, Canada’s trade sur­plus with the United States slipped to $4 bil­lion in March com­pared with $4.5 bil­lion in Fe­bru­ary.

Ex­ports to the United States edged up 0.1 per cent to $34.4 bil­lion, while im­ports from the United States in­creased 2.0 per cent to $30.4 bil­lion.

Mean­while, Canada’s trade deficit with coun­tries other than the U.S. nar­rowed to $4.1 bil­lion in March from $5.6 bil­lion in Fe­bru­ary.

On the other im­port side of the equa­tion, im­ports in­creased 1.7 per cent to $47.1 bil­lion, with gains in seven of 11 sec­tors.

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